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Jacksonville City Council President Looking To Establish Civil Rights History Task Force

Lindsey Kilbride
Council President Anna Lopez Brosche (middle) meets with city council members Katrina Brown (left), Sam Newby, Reggie Gaffney and Reggie Brown (right) Monday.

Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche wants to establish a task force on local Civil Rights history and she’s seeking a vote at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Brosche said it all started with an editorial by The Florida Times-Union pointing out a new U.S. Civil Rights trail with an online interactive map of more than 100 historic landmarks in 14 states, but Florida wasn’t included. She said she got a lot of calls about it.

“One of those callers suggested I create a task force, that it was really a travesty and disappointing that we aren’t on it,” Brosche said.

She met with several African-American city council members Monday to get input and ask for support for a task force, although it wouldn’t get Florida on that online trail. Councilman Reggie Brown said he would be co-sponsoring Brosche’s bill.

“People have to see themselves in order to feel good about themselves and I think that we’ve done a poor job representing all the rich history that we have here,” Brown said.

The 25-member task force, comprised of historians, activists and educators, would have until the end of June to bring forth recommendations on how Jacksonville can better reflect and educate people about the city’s Civil Rights history.

A draft proposal for the task force lays out some of Jacksonville’s Civil Rights history, saying a third of the 18 people inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame are from Jacksonville,  including Arnett Girardeau, Jr. and Sallye Brooks Mathis.

Brosche said she’s heard that the state’s tourism agency, Visit Florida is working to get the state on the trail.

She said she’ll ask for her colleagues to both introduce and pass the bill Tuesday evening in order to start the process as soon as possible.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.